Thursday, April 14, 2005

Nevada's 'Tyranny Protection Act' Sails through Judiciary

The Senate Judiciary Committee of the Nevada Legislature rolled over yesterday, giving a pass to an amended version of Senate Billl 150, what I call the 'Tyranny Protection Act', the proposal making it a crime to lodge a 'false' accusation against a public employee. According to reports from the Las Vegas Review-Journal **, there were two changes, both ostensibly intended to render this unconstitutional conception sound. One modification excludes those holding political office. The second alteration would limit the scope of accusations, making the law applicable only when any charges deemed untrue against a bureaucrat are directed to his or her employer.

Quoted Wednesday in the R-J, Judiciary chair Senator Mark Armodei, if not apologetic in tone, certainly seemed tentative, after his committee extended the bill's life: "I'm sure the issue will be litigated even if this passes," Amodei said. "I guess this represents our best attempt at attempting to respond to the public safety concerns."

In a time when it appears that most of those elected and employed in the public sector are pleading poverty, isn't it ironic that they don't give all of the costs that would emanate from SB 150 becoming law one whit of recognition? Who is going to foot the bill for the expenses incurred, for the additional time and attention it will demand from legislators, for the arrests and probable incarcerations, not to mention for all of the required lawyering - not only that which is seen in court, but what takes place behind the scenes - when in all likelihood, this law will ultimately be struck down?

Despite Mr. Armodei's misgivings, SB 150 evidently cleared the hurdle handily, passing by a six to one margin. Only Terry Care, a Democrat from Las Vegas, deserves kudos, earning the distinction as the single lawmaker to have voted against this atrocious idea. Personally, there was no reassurance for me in learning that an individual I believed to be a truly principled conservative, Maurice Washington, a Republican from Washoe County, voted in its favor.

So far, 14 members of the Senate, including the bill's instigator Vegas Democrat, Senator Maggie Carlton, have let the light be green for SB 150. This includes members of the Government Affairs Committee, the panel that originally received the draft, before shuffling it on to the folks at Judiciary.

To its credit, the Review-Journal, Nevada's largest newspaper, has consistently sided with the citizens on its editorial and op-ed pages. Today, the newspaper appropriately slammed Senator Carlton, noting that, ". . . Ms. Carlton's concern for government employees outweighs her devotion to the Nevada taxpayers who pay their salaries or to the First Amendment."

Appropriately, the R-J also alluded to the fact that SB 150 is a wasteful exercise in futility. "Lawmakers passed a similar bill in 1999, only to see the federal courts toss it out as unconstitutional. A similar fate awaits this measure if it survives the process. The Republicans who allowed it to emerge from the committee -- what was Judiciary Chairman Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, thinking? -- deserve to be pilloried."

One reason this kind of pap gets so far is because self centered, whining lobbyists from organizations with a constituency that is taxpayer supported - take the Las Vegas Police Protective Association and the Nevada State Education Association for example - are the ones blessed with access to the legislators most of the time.

Despite the exemplary efforts of some in the media, it will take a public outcry to ensure that this act lands where it belongs, right in 'file 13'. You are thus encouraged to share your commentary with these politicians.

It's my objective to give this matter the ongoing attention it deserves. The article immediately prior to this one gives direct contact links to those who have been involved with SB 150 to this point. The first two pieces on this topic, filled with generous contributions from Juli Alexander of Redress, Inc., are available for your perusal. One is titled Stifling Citizen Complaints and the second The Tyranny Protection Act: More on SB 150.

**Since the Review-Journal now has a policy of charging for stories older than seven days, it makes no sense to link those particular items.


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